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Terri Schaivo [Mar. 23rd, 2005|01:07 pm]
Christian Left Issues
xianleft_mike
As I write this the Court of Appeals has rejected the urgent appeal by Mrs. Schiavo's parents to restore her feeding tube. They are now seeking a hearing before the full court (presumably they've counted noses and feel they have a better chance than with the Supremes) although their chances appear grim. If you are reading this, you already know this, so let me go on to my impressions of this little drama which has captured our national psyche.

Evidence has come out recently that the Republican leadership in Congress has latched onto this issue as a way to rally its base. This is hardly a surprise. How can you tell that Tom Delay is pandering to his base? His lips are moving. The sad fact of the matter is that the law sending the measure to the federal courts was deliberately crafted not to work, leading to its inevitable failure and yet another chance for conservatives to claim that the courts are "out of control." As Thomas Frank has ably concluded in What's the Matter with Kansas? this leads to a call for more conservative judges, which then abandon social issues and instead rule on economic issues in a way that favor business at the expense of consumers and workers. If the foot soldiers on the right knew how they were being manipulated, they would think again about what their leadership is asking them to do.

The problem is, of course, that this movement works on a visceral rather than an intellectual level. The appeal to save Terri's life is largely an emotional one. The fact that Michael Schaivo has fathered two children with another woman has also touched a nerve with them. Demonizing the husband gives the issue added appeal, even though he has faithfully cared for her for these past years. The doctors who have examined her have concluded that her cerebral cortex has liquified. In effect, she is asleep and will never wake up. Michael has to be admired for sticking to his guns and honoring his wife's wishes. It would have been far easier to walk away and let her parents have their way.

As a father, I can understand the love they have for their daughter. However, as a husband I can understand Michael's position even more. The parents have been ill advised by the Church, who as usual is speaking about an area of medical ethics it does not seem to understand. While it is not obvious that medically provided nutrition and hydration is an extraordinary measure, using such to prolong the life of someone who has no higher brain, let alone higher brain function must be entirely appropriate. Until two years ago, the Church agreed. However, for whatever reason, Rome is seeking the extremes in search of a "consistent" pro-life ethic - as they have done so misguidedly with birth control. Historically, it was considered quite legitimate to withhold food from the dying. One would think that if someone cannot eat and cannot think that it is better to entrust them into God's hands. With the upcoming Easter season, one would hope that that the Church would remember that Terri will one day rise with Christ and that letting her die will hasten the time when her spirit can meet the Lord.

Some say that Terri should be kept alive to offer witness. In the Catholic tradition, when someone is suffering, they can offer witness to their faith through adversity. Terri Schaivo can offer no such witness, since she is not suffering. Offering witness is a conscious choice. She has no conciousness to make such a choice. She is an exhibit, rather than a witness, and what her case is exhibiting is how the Church has gone to extemes. The Lord cannot allow such insanity for much longer in his Church.

Let us all pray for Terri Schaivo. Rather than praying for the reconnecting of her feeding tube, however, let us pray for God's will for her rather than our own. If her parents and their supporters would only pray in this way, the nation would be spared a public airing of their family tragedy which has gone on for far too long.

When we were at St. Matthew's Cathedral for Mass on Palm Sunday, we encounted a protestor for Terri. This woman seemed quite distraught over Terri's circumstances. I doubt whether this woman had ever met Terri, yet her case seemed to be dominating her life. To her, and to all those committed people like her who have taken this personal tragedy on as their own, I have one thing to say in conclusion. GET A LIFE! As Jesus said to the weeping women on his way to crucifixion, do not weep for me, but for yourselves. There is plenty of calamity in our future (how can their not be with this administration in power). Let us worry about that, rather than Terri Schaivo.
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Gay Marriage in Virginia [Feb. 8th, 2005|02:08 pm]
Christian Left Issues
xianleft_mike
As I write this, the Virginia House of Delegates is voting on a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. They are doing so to prevent "activist judges" from extending marital rights to gay couples under the doctrine of equal protection. This is not a new thing for Virginia, who vigorously enforced a law banning interracial marriage until the United States Supreme Court overturned it in Loving v. Virginia. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

What the conservatives really fear, however, is a federal action extending marital rights to gays and lesbians, so in a way this amendment is whistling past the grave yard. In fact, similar recent state constitutional amendments are already under challenge in federal court, so the amendment may never make it to the voters.

Conservatives believe that it is improper for activist judges to overturn the will of majorities. However, the gist of the equal protection doctrine calls precisely for the judicial branch to check the will of majorities by protecting minority rights. Remember, the Bill of Rights was not passed as an expression of a majority, but as a condition for the ratification of the federal constitution. The Federalists did not believe a Bill of Rights was needed, just as their Republican heirs do not believe that an equal protection doctrine is needed. Polling data on the electorate indicates that if the provisions of the Bill of Rights were put to a vote they would fail (except possibly the Second Amendment).

The resentment against activist federal judges goes back even farther than the Fourteenth Amendment, which is the vehicle used to overturn state laws which persecute minorities. This debate emerged in the debate over nullification, whereby states rights advocates argued that states governments could nullify federal acts it did not agree with in their own states, particularly with regard to slavery. Now, Article IV of the U.S. Constitution is quite clear that the federal constitution and laws were the supreme law of the land, so the argument never held water. The question was finally settled at Appotomax, Virginia with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General Grant. The Fourteenth Amendment simply codified it. While there was a brief conservative counter-revolution under the Wilsonian Democrats, right has always been on the side of equal protection. Just as it is now.

Going back to the question of marriage, which I address in more detail on my web page at http://www.christianleft.net/SocialPolitics/GayRights.html
I was taught in both Catholic High School and in marriage preparation that God made marriage a sacrament and it was between the two individuals getting married, with the minister and the state merely providing witness. It is a pity that the Commonwealth of Virginia is still in the nasty habit of arguing with God.
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Welcome [Jan. 20th, 2005|03:13 am]
Christian Left Issues
xianleft_mike
Welcome to this new community, where we will discuss and debate Christian Left issues. Let's start with the abortion issue, which seems to be key this time of year. How shall the Christian Left handle it? Obviously as Christians we are not fond of the procedure. However, as leftists the idea of banning it does not appeal to us. I have written about this on my web page, http://www.christianleft.net in three articles under the heading of social issues. I tackle the question of when life begins, whether Roe is good law and what a Christian Left solution might be (in short, increasing the child tax credit to living wage levels). Take a look and comment.

Peace.
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